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Spirit or power of evil. Though sometimes used to refer to demons, the term more often designates the prince of evil spirits. In the Bible the Devil is known as Satan, Beelzebub, and Lucifer. In Judaism, Satan emerges as subservient to God and as an adversary and accuser of Job and other humans. In postbiblical traditions he emerges as the tempter of humankind and is responsible for all the sins in the Bible. Christian theology holds that his main task is to tempt humans to reject the way of life and redemption in favour of sin and death. In the Qur'an the Devil is frequently associated with Iblis; he tempts the unfaithful but not the true believer. In Hinduism there is no principal devil, although there are a variety of demons or devilish beings. Buddhists also recognize the existence of many demons, and Mara, the Buddha's opponent and tempter, is sometimes identified as a specific devil.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on devil, visit Britannica.com.